Downpatrick Racecourse

Address:
24 Ballydugan Rd, Downpatrick, BT30 6TE - Map & Directions
Telephone:
02844 612 054

Downpatrick racecourse is situated in the beautiful countryside of County Down and is largely considered to be one of the most picturesque and aesthetically pleasing racecourses in the whole of Ireland. Although Northern Ireland is officially part of the United Kingdom, racing is run on an ‘All-Ireland’ basis so Downpatrick, along with the other course in Northern Ireland, Down Royal, is part of Horse Racing Ireland. With the first race meeting held way back in 1685, Downpatrick is the oldest venue for horse racing in Ireland, with race meetings being held there consistently for well over 300 years. Downpatrick is a very popular course, due to its friendly atmosphere and gorgeous surroundings, and it is often included in winter campaigns for eventual winners in the Grand National, as well as various races throughout the Cheltenham Festival.

The racecourse itself is located just one mile form the town of Downpatrick in County Down. Those intending to drive to the course are encouraged to take the A2 to Bangor and follow the signs leading to Downpatrick, where there are clear and regular directions to the racecourse. The closest train station to Downpatrick racecourse is Lisburn, which is one of the stops on the Belfast to Dublin Express. Although the racecourse is within walking distance of the railway station, a taxi rank is available directly outside for those who require it.

Ticket Prices

Entry to the racecourse is universally priced for all areas, with entry prices starting at just £10 for adults, although this may be increased for more popular events. The starting price for students and OAPs is just £5, although some proof of age/eligibility may be needed. Customers under the age of 18 are allowed entry to the track free of charge when accompanied by a full paying adult, and again some proof of age may be requested upon entry.

The Course

Downpatrick Racecourse
Downpatrick Racecourse (Eric Jones / geograph.ie)

Downpatrick hosts both National Hunt flat and jumps races on the same tight track measuring 1m3f in circumference. The course is rather circular in shape, lacking any long galloping straights, including the home stretch which comes in very short at just one furlong in length. It does, however, feature severe undulations throughout, with flat sections a real rarity. In conjunction with the tightness of the track, Downpatrick offers a stiff test and previous course form is something to really consider as this is not somewhere all horses will take to.

The hurdles laid out on the course are jumped on angles so some agility is needed to tackle them, another distinct feature of Downpatrick. The six fences per circuit are also quite tricky in relation to others, with the final pair located in close proximity. After tackling the last two obstacles, horses face a short run-in, a little over a furlong long, which is significantly uphill. Any horses that struggle with the fences close to home have so little time to recover that a sound jumper is a wise pick here.

A Test for Horse & Jockey

Most jockeys riding at Downpatrick for the first time will likely be shocked by the steepness of the drop past the winning post. Istabraq’s regular partner, Charlie Swan, described it as feeling like you are heading off the edge of a cliff.

Aside from the nerve inducing drop, jockeys must also know when to give their horse a break during the many undulations on the course as it’s not a place you can simply keep your foot on the gas. Being a little off the pace is fine early on as it’s not unusual for prominent runners to be caught out by the stiff final furlong and a half.

Major Meetings at Downpatrick

Downpatrick hosts ten fixtures annually, with the most prestigious being the Powers Whisky Ulster National, which is run each February over three and a half miles.

Dining and Hospitality

In terms of private hospitality, the state of the art facilities at Downpatrick are available to add a little bit more sophistication to a day at the races. Corporate hospitality boxes are available for between 10 and 20 people, with prices starting from just £40 per person. Food is not included in the deal, however an additional hospitality package is available on top of this price for £36 per head, with additional bonuses including a race card, food and evening entertainment.

Map

Swap Start/End

Grudge Matches